Another Year, Another Wish

It’s been quite a year. To sum up, I’m glad it’s over, I’m happy at how I’ve changed my life, I’m tired of change, I’m thrilled at how well my eBook company, the eBook ArtisansTM, is doing, I love my job, I’m sad I didn’t—as Neil Gaiman says—kiss someone who thinks I’m wonderful, and I GOT A PUPPY!

My year in Facebook statuses:


And every few years, I post my favorite blessing for the New Year by Neil Gaiman. I don’t really have any resolutions this year, and to be honest, I want everything in his benediction—especially to kiss someone who thinks I’m wonderful. Smile

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art—write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously.

I hope you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked, and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now—I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere, in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

Isn’t that the best ever? Here he is, reading it.

And what is your wish for the new year?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags: , , ,

Express Yourself

Whether you’re NaNoing or not, a dash of inspiration from Glee, Neil Gaiman, and the Dresden Dolls couldn’t hurt, could it? I was thinking today about this drive we writers tend to have: the drive to express ourselves.

What an odd thing. Sometimes in life there are bits you can’t talk about, can’t write about, can’t even turn into fiction, and for me, it feels like I’ve got a muzzle on.

It. Drives. Me. Mad.

I need to express myself. I have to. I don’t know why. (Is this a good time to embed Glee’s rendition of Madonna’s “Express Yourself?”)

I remember once asking my best friend about what I would tell some people about something (I’ve since forgotten the details), and she answered, “Nothing. It’s none of their business.”

I was stunned.

That hadn’t occurred to me.


Neil Gaiman reviewed a concert by the Dresden Dolls yesterday, and I discovered a new song: Sing. He described it:

Then it’s "Sing." If there ever was a Dresden Dolls anthem, it’s this: a plea to make art, whatever the hell else you do. "Sing for the teacher who told you that you couldn’t sing," sings Amanda. The audience sings along, and it feels important, less of a singalong and more like communion or a credo, and we’re all singing and it’s Hallowe’en and I’m up on the balcony slightly drunk, thinking that this is some sort of wonderful, and Amanda’s shouting, "You motherfuckers, you’ll sing some day," and it’s all so good, and I’m standing with two dead girls, and we’re cheering and happy and it’s one of those perfect moments that don’t come along in a lifetime that often, the kind of moment you could end a movie on.

I keep thinking that if I’m not going to get much thinking on anything other than the things I can’t talk about, why can’t I just use the stuff I’m obsessing about and turn it into fiction?

Lots of people do.

I’ve never been able to.

Maybe with time.

What about you? Ever felt muzzled? Do you turn the thought-stealing issues from your life into fiction? And how’s your writing going, NaNo or not?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Pop Culture | Tags: , , ,

Because It Makes Me Happy

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Uncategorized | Tags:

That’d Make A Great Title!

Two of my most favorite authors do it. When I’m reading John Irving and Neil Gaiman, or even listening to them talk, every other sentence seems to have something in it that makes me think, “That’d make a great title! I could write a whole book on that alone!”

Which is really rather depressing when you think about it.

And inspiring.

Ever read an author’s work, and get struck by possible titles? Possible novels? Who? Who most inspires you?

Watch CBS News Videos Online

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Give Them A Chance To Forget

image There comes a point where you’ve read and heard just about every technique. But somewhere in reading the archives of Neil Gaiman’s blog, I came across this tidbit that feels new, even though I kinda do it already. Now I can more consciously play with it, though.

“Give them a chance to forget.”

I think this technique is best shown, rather than told: American Gods Blog, Post 36.

No, really, please click through. Worth it, I promise. Cross my heart. I don’t hope to die, but I do hope you’ll read it.

And from Gary Corby (via Janet Reid, so you’ve probably already seen), is this Microsoft Word tip that made me laugh out loud.

The other use I put autocorrect to is to catch my noise words. Everyone has them. I tend to overuse the word just. To stop myself I put in this autocorrection:

just autocorrects to NO! NO! NO!

If I type:

"I’ll just wander over to the Agora," N said.

What appears is:

"I’ll NO! NO! NO! wander over to the Agora," Nicolaos said.

I found THE prettiest book today: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll and newly illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia. A wonderful goth feel to the new illustrations.

And you know what I thought? That I miss reading books with pictures in them. Then what do I read on the first page?

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’

I have a new dream: to someday write such a story that Harper Collins decides it worthy of illustration by Camille Rose Garcia.

(Too much fangirl? Sorry. Can’t help it.)

Also, have found new blog: Multi-Hyphenate: Perpetually Hyphenated. Highly Opinionated. Endlessly Creative. The link does not lead you to the blog front page, but to Paul Klein’s first contribution, of Dark Scribe fame (whom you might remember), who ceased blogging to go to law school. Hmph. He’s getting his life back on track, now. ;-P

I NO! NO! NO! love it when lost bloggers resurface in the blogosphere.

Any new techniques you’ve discovered, or at least put a new name to, made you remember it consciously instead of subconsciously? Any cool links to share?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Writing Craft | Tags: , ,

One Word After Another

It’s that time of year again: NaNoWriMo! 1,667 words a day for 30 days straight. And it’s not just the writing… the group energy dynamic really helps one keep going when the going gets tough.

And this year, I really need your help. For the first time, my schedule is clear of pseudonym’s obligations. I’ve been behind for ages, but come November 1? I actually have time to write a novel targeted for New York!

Yikes. No pressure or anything.

Boy, I am really hoping that some of you will be doing NaNoWriMo this year, because I know the going is going to get tough for me. I am praying for your camaraderie!

Pretty please? Think about it?

I want to do my part, too. Melanie mentioned feeling alone and abandoned by her NaNoWriMo friends by the end. I promise to check in here every day of November, up until the ugly end. (Except the first three days, when I’ll be travelling, but I’ll try to pre-schedule posts.)

What can we do to make this more fun? Chat party once a week? How about writing races? (I can do buddy writing from 7:30am-10:30pm… I’m so there! Name the time!) How about mini-NaNoWriMos for those who want to write every day but don’t have the time for 1,667 words a day?

Let’s get motivated with one of my favorite writer’s NaNoWriMo pep talk. Here’s Neil Gaiman talking about that awful three-quarter point of writing a novel:

You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.

Welcome to the club.

That’s how novels get written.

I am stopping short of quoting the whole thing, but just short. I am pretty sure I am breaking the rules of how much you’re allowed to quote, but here’s the bit I read every time I’m at the part of my book where I happen to be at now:

"Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?"

I was shocked. "You mean I’ve done this before?"

"You don’t remember?"

"Not really."

"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."

I didn’t even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

One word after another.

You can read Neil Gaiman’s whole pep talk here. And I’m “spyscribbler,” if you want to buddy me on NaNoWriMo!

How can we make November a big old writing party for you, NaNoWriMo or not?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: NaNoWriMo | Tags: ,

The Unexpected Angle

I fell into the trap. I got into a series, and I started understanding what the readers wanted. And, of course, I’m a for-the-reader writer, so I started giving it to them.

I forgot the most important thing to remember: you need to give them what they want in an unexpected way.

Reading back through one of my series last weekend, I did that in books 1-3, but failed to in 4 and half of 5. I slipped into only giving readers what they want, which is, unfortunately, not really satisfying.

What’s the angle? Because we almost always need one to stay “fresh.”

The other day I talked about the challenges of serial writing. Neil Gaiman once mentioned how educational comic book writing was in terms of readers. The letters would pour in after a release, and he’d have instant feedback on what the readers thought he was going to do next. So of course he did something different in the next installment.

There is a difference between giving the writers what they want and what they expect. One must always fulfill the former and thwart the latter.

What think you?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Writing Craft | Tags: , ,

The Graveyard Book

imageI started with a quick read. I don’t think I’ll blog about all 365 books I read this year, but this is the first, and this is a good one. I mean, it’s Neil Gaiman.

The Graveyard Book is one of those books that you connect with so well, you feel bits are written just for you. It’s also an inspiring reminder of how to live life—at least, how I want to live the rest of my life.

It’s about a boy, Nobody Owens, whose family is killed and he’s raised by ghosts in a graveyard, where he learns how to live life from the dead. Above is the “adult” cover, I’m told. Neil Gaiman’s books seem to work really well for both kids and adults, and it’s hard to pigeonhole some of them as either.

In the first part, there’s this quote that is so applicable to my recent decision:

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

I was afraid of that.

I purposely left bits of myself behind, LOL. And I’m happy to report that I am happy, annoyingly so! Bod, (short for Nobody) at the end of the story, finally leaves the graveyard, and these are his plans, which are my plans exactly!

“See the world,” said Bod. “Get into trouble. Get out of trouble again. Visit jungles and volcanoes and deserts and islands. And people. I want to meet an awful lot of people.”

The end also has another bit of wisdom:

Face your life
Its pain, its pleasure,
Leave no path untaken

“Leave no path untaken,” repeated Bod. “A difficult challenge, but I can try my best.”

It’s the sort of book you want to give as a graduation gift and make sure they read it and make sure they learn and apply its lessons well. But of course, that would sort of ruin the experience, wouldn’t it? Because it doesn’t read like a “lesson” book. It reads like a great adventure.

Below, Neil Gaiman does a 2-minute reading of one of my favorite parts, about a poet, Nehemiah Trot and his revenge on his critics. I think it was written for all of us writers!

(There’s a Q&A session, if you want to watch the whole talk at the National Book Festival.)

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Book-A-Day Reading Challenge | Tags: ,

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